Nothing screams the holidays quite like fruitcake. Honestly, these cookies are good enough that I would happily make them at any time of the year.
Spicy Holiday Fruit Cookies
Source: December 3, 1960- Lancaster Farming
1 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats
3 ½ cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup candied mixed fruit
½ cup chopped candied cherries
Candied cherries and nuts for decoration
“Cream shortening and brown sugar together. Beat in eggs. Add rolled oats. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in 1 cup each chopped nuts, dates, and mixed fruit and ½ cup cherries. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Top cookies with halved cherries or nuts for decoration. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies to a cooling rack using wide spatula. Cool. Store in a closed container. Makes about ten dozen.”
Before I start ranting about how much I loved these things, I want to note a few things with the recipe. At the very end of the instructions, the author states that the recipe will make ten dozen cookies. In reality the number was probably closer to seven dozen. Due to the sheer volume of cookies, the baking process takes a fair amount of time. I had three different cookie sheets that I continuously rotated in and out of the oven several times. This volume of sweets, however, does come with a decent sized price tag. Not including items I already had on hand, I spent around $25 at the cheapest grocery stores in town. The dates, nuts, and mixed fruit consist of the majority of that $25. In theory, I may have enough leftover ingredients to cook another full batch of them.
Due to my recent acquisition of a standing mixer (thank you Lisa!) the cookies were a breeze to make. The batter was thick enough that I suspect using a small hang mixer or mixing by hand would be relatively difficult, though not impossible, process. (Side note: It is possible that the writer of the original recipe used a stand mixer as KitchenAid released their first stand mixer in 1919 at which time it weighted 65 pounds.)
Another part of the recipe I’d like to draw attention to is the note that the cookies should be removed when they turn golden brown. In my test I found that their color didn’t change much in the process of cooking. Waiting for a change of color resulted in the first sheet of cookies getting burnt on the bottom. The 10 minutes turned out to be a perfect estimate for my particular oven. Instead of relying on visuals, I suggest checking the cookies with a toothpick to determine if they are done.
Despite the amount public ridicule that is lumped on fruitcakes each year, these cookies were a resounding success. I’m not sure how true to the fruitcake taste these were, as I’ve never tried fruitcake myself, but I loved them. The taste was rather unique, with flavors from the fruit, nuts, and spices all blending together perfectly. In the end the cookies ended up being perfect balance between soft and chewy. They were not especially sweet which caused me to scarf down more than I probably should have. I ended up being grateful for the amount of cookies that this recipe produced because they were snatched up very quickly. This is especially true of my three year old nephew who grabbed a plate of them last Christmas. I’m not quite sure how many he had but I do know he probably would have kept scarfing them down if we let him.
Adams, Noah. “MitchenAid Mixers Still Proudly American.” NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112620794.
Williams, Geoff. “Making Fun of Fruitcake is a Relatively New Tradition.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwilliams/2015/12/21/making-fun-of-fruitcake-is-a-relatively-new-tradition/#2accaa0a7b30.